We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— 3we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.5This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
This is our journey toward the Light. It is a Light that has been there from the beginning, beckoning us to follow it. And we walk in darkness, trying our best to get to that Light, to see the Light, to enter the Light. But then, this: “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” So, we travel in darkness but there IS no darkness? That really makes no sense. If there is no darkness, then why are we here in the darkness?
We have often characterized darkness as a number of “bad” things—sickness, fear, sin, death. Take your pick. But if there is no darkness, then why are those things hanging around? Think about this. Remember your science. A spectrum is a band of colors, like we see in a rainbow. These bands are produced by separation of the components of light by their different degrees of refraction. There are a multitude of different degrees of separation. But our eyes are only capable of seeing a few of them. In the whole spectrum of light, that spectrum that God created, there is only a slim band of colors, a slim band of light, that we can see. The rest of it appears dark to us. And, yet, it’s light.
This journey toward the Light is not merely one where we are trying to get TO the Light. It is a journey of learning to see the Light. “God is Light and in him there is no darkness at all.” Go back to Genesis 1. Remember that God created the darkness and then created the Light to push it away. Everything is Light because everything is of God. We just can’t see it. Maybe we’re not meant to see it. After all, part of our faith is acknowledging that mystery part of God. God will reveal what God will reveal. God will reveal everything we need to see—if we’ll open our eyes to look for it. And, in the meantime, our faith rests in knowing that there is no darkness at all. So, do not dismiss or silence the darkness. Perhaps it is what is calling you into the Light.
I believe that life is given us so we may grow in love, and I believe that God is in me as the sun is the colour and fragrance of a flower…I believe that in the life to come I shall have the senses I have not had here, and that my home there will be beautiful with colour, music, and speech of flowers and faces I love. Without this faith there would be little meaning in my life. I should be “a mere pillar of darkness in the dark.” (Helen Keller)
20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.27“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
We wish to see Jesus. Think about it. What does that mean? Would our lives or our faith or our image of God be different if we had actually laid eyes on Jesus? I think it’s interesting that those who wanted to see Jesus are Greeks. If they were Greeks, that was implying that they were not Jewish. They were not part of Jesus’ community. And to these ancient Greeks, “seeing” meant observing. “Theoros” was the word for spectator or “one who observes the vision.” These spectators were not just there. They weren’t just hanging around. They were intentionally sent. Think of them as ambassodors sent to consult and bring back the news. Being a spectator, a “seer”, meant being both a witness and a participant.
There is a story that is told of Anthony the Great, the fourth-century leader of Egyptian monasticism. A wise older monk and a young novice would journey each year into the desert to seek the wisdom of Anthony. Upon finding him, the monk would seek instruction from the great Anthony on the life of prayer, devotion to Jesus, and his understanding of the Scriptures. While the monk was asking all the questions the novice would simply stand quietly and take it all in.
The next year the well-worn monk and the young novice again went into the desert to find Anthony and seek his counsel. Again, the monk was full of questions, while the novice simply stood by without saying a word. This pattern was repeated year after year. Finally, Anthony said to the young novice, “Why do you come here? You come here year after year, yet you never ask any questions, you never desire my counsel, and you never seek my wisdom. Why do you come? Can you not speak?” The young novice spoke for the first time in the presence of the great saint. “It is enough just to see you. It is enough, for me just to see you.”
It is enough for us just to see Jesus. But it is more than just seeing with our eyes. We are spectators. We are participants. We are witnesses. In the Scripture passage, Jesus promised that as he was lifted up, as he was carried away from the hopelessness and despair of this world, he would draw all people to himself. All would see Jesus and finally have their thirst quenched by the Divine. But in order to be lifted up, the self that one has created must die away. No longer can there be an attachment to this world—to wealth, to pleasure, to the place that one has obtained for oneself in life. Those are meaningless. But God through Christ offers a life that will always quench our thirst and be a feast for our eyes—a life with the Divine forever walking with us, a life for which our true self thirsts, a life of seeing Jesus, being with Jesus, just as those Greeks desired.
The cross is the instrument through which we see Jesus. It is on the cross that Jesus becomes transparent, fully revealed. Seeing Jesus means that we see that vision of the world that God holds for us. And seeing Jesus also means that we see this world with all of its beauty and all of its horror. We see the way that God sees. We back away from ourselves and we see the big picture. We see what needs to be done. We finally see who we are. And the closer we get to the cross, the more transparent we also become, the more of ourselves is revealed to the world.
That is probably uncomfortable for most of us. Wouldn’t it be easier to stand back in the shadows and let all of this happen, maybe just quietly watch it? After all, Jesus did it for us, right? But that is not what this walk is about. That is not what we’re about. That is not what Jesus was about. And how, then, would you answer the question to come: “Were you there?” Malcolm Muggeridge once said that “the way of Love is the way of the Cross, and it is only through the cross that we come to the Resurrection. Because the son of man will be lifted up in glory, we will be gathered in, and we will see Jesus illumined by the light of God. In other words, when we finally get ourselves out of the way, when we step forward as spectators, participants, and witnesses, we WILL see Jesus. It means going all the way to the cross. We can’t stand back and just look. “Seeing” does not just happen with our eyes; “Seeing Jesus” is what we do with our heart.
Lent is not just a time for squaring conscious accounts but for realizing what we perhaps had not seen before. (Thomas Merton)
This Sunday’s Lectionary Passage: Mark 9: 2-9 (Transfiguration B)
2Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.9As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
In the big scheme of things, we’ve gotten to this point pretty fast. Here it is—a child born into anonymous poverty and raised by no-name peasants turns out to be the Son of God. He grows up, becomes a teacher, a healer, and capable of hosting large groups of people with just a small amount of leftovers. He asks a handful of random people to become his followers, to help him in his mission. They leave everything they have, give up their possessions and their way of making a living, they sacrifice any shred of life security that they might have had, and begin to follow this great person around, probably often wondering what in the world they were doing or where they were really going on this incredible journey on which he was taking them. And then one day, Jesus leads them up to a mountain, away from the interruptions of the world.
And there on that mountain, the clothes that Jesus was wearing change, taking on a hue of dazzling, blinding, white, whiter than anything that they had ever seen before. And on the mountain appeared Elijah and Moses, representing the Law and the prophets, the forerunners of our faith, standing there with Jesus. It’s as if all that is and all that was came together in this one climactic moment. No longer is there any separation between what came before and what happens in this moment; no longer can the Old Testament and New Testament be looked upon without each other to tell the story.
Peter wanted to build three dwellings to house them. I used to think that he had somehow missed the point, that he was in some way trying to manipulate or control or make sense of this wild and uncontrollable mystery that is God. I probably thought that because that’s what I may tend to do. But, again, Peter was speaking out of his Jewish understanding. He was offering lodging—a booth, a tent, a tabernacle, a sanctuary—for the holy. For him, it was a way not of controlling the sacred but rather of honoring the awe and wonder that he sensed. And from the cloud that veils them comes a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!” “Listen to him!” OK, be honest. What would have been your reaction? I’m thinking our first response would not have been overly profound: “Wow!” Our second response? “This is it; we are surely going to die.”
And then, just as suddenly as they appeared, Moses and Elijah drop out of sight and Jesus was standing there alone, completely unveiled. In Old Testament Hebrew understanding, the tabernacle shrouded in the cloud was the place where God was. Here, this changes. Jesus stays with them and the cloud dissipates. Jesus IS the tabernacle, the reality of God’s presence in the world. And all that was and all that is has become part of that, swept into this Holy Presence of God. And, more importantly, we are invited into it. No longer are we shielded from God’s Presence. We become part of it, a mirror for all to experience and encounter the living God.
And so the disciples start down the mountain. Jesus remains with them but they kept silent. The truth was that Jesus knew that this account would only make sense in light of what was to come. The disciples would know when to tell the story. They saw more than Jesus on the mountain. They also saw who and what he was. And long after Jesus is gone from this earth, they will continue to tell this strange story of what they saw. For now, he would just walk with them. God’s presence remains.
The Celtic tradition would call them “thin places”, places where that so-called “veil” that separates the earth and heaven, the ordinary and the sacred, the human and the Divine, becomes so thin, so translucent, that one gets a glimpse of the glory of God. It is those times and places in our lives where God’s Presence becomes almost palpable and where we cannot help but be transfigured into what God calls us to be. Perhaps it is those times when we don’t just think about God but rather create space enough for the sacred and the Divine to penetrate our lives and our flesh in the deepest part of our being. And, therein, lies our transfiguration. In essence, we were right. We die. We die to the way we are and we become someone different.
The Greek term for “transfiguration” is “metamorphosis”, deriving from the root meaning “transformation”. We know that word as it relates to science and nature. Most of us probably think of the lowly caterpillar who, given enough time, becomes a beautiful butterfly. Metamorphosis is, literally, to change into something else. There is no going back. The butterfly will never again reenter the cocoon.
Those thin places in our lives, those places where the holy spills into our being, where we finally know that we are not called to understand but to see, to see what God has put before us—those are the places and times that provide those mountain-top experiences. But we’re not just limited to one. They are there all the time. God’s Presence is always with us. We just have to learn to see in a new way. We have to learn to see that blinding, awe-inspiring, mysterious glory of God.
The Hebrews understood that no one could see God and live. You know, I think they were right. No one can see God and remain the same. We die to ourselves and emerge in the cloud. The truth is, when we are really honest with ourselves, we probably are a little like the disciples. We’d rather not really have “all” of God. We’d rather control the way God enters and affects our lives. We’d rather be a little more in control of any metamorphosis that happens in our lives, perhaps even hold on to that cocoon a little longer than we should. We’d rather be able to pick and choose the way that our lives change. We’d rather God’s Presence come blowing in at just the right moment as a cool, gentle, springtime breeze. In fact, we’re downright uncomfortable with this devouring fire, bright lights, almost tornado-like God that really is God. God is not something that we are supposed to understand, or figure out, or control. God is awe and wonder and mystery. God is God. And encountering God is the point of our story. It’s the pinnacle, the thin place, the climax.
This account of the Transfiguration of Jesus seems to me that it should be the climax of Jesus’ story—the quintessential mountain-top experience. After all, how can you top it—Old Testament heroes appearing, God speaking from the cloud, and Jesus all lit up so brightly that it is hard for us to look at him. But there’s a reason that we read this on the last Sunday before we begin our Lenten journey. In some ways, it IS perhaps the climax of Jesus’ earthly journey. Jesus tells the disciples to keep what happened to themselves, if only for now. And then the lights dim. Moses and Elijah are gone, and, if only for awhile, God stops talking.
Jesus walked with the disciples in the silence. The air became thicker and heavier as they approached the bottom. As they descended the mountain, they knew they were walking toward Jerusalem. As they walked down the mountain, the holy city lay before them and Galilee was forever behind them.
Next Wednesday, Lent begins. The Transfiguration, the climax, is only understood in light of what comes next. We are nearing the end of our Epiphany journey. We are nearing the end of that season of warm illumination. The light is now almost blinding to the ways of this world. We have been to the mountaintop and we have seen the glory of God. And we have been changed. There is no going back. The only way is through Jerusalem. We have to walk through what will come. Jesus has started the journey to the cross. We must do the same. If we stay here, we miss out. God has gone on to Jerusalem. It is a journey through a wilderness, a journey through something we do not understand. So we have to follow with new eyes.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. (Marcel Proust)
SOME HOUSEKEEPING: OK, believe it or not, Lent is upon us. The wilderness awaits. So, I’m going to try to commit to writing every day for Lent, beginning Ash Wednesday. Here’s your part. Read them every day. Let’s make it a journey that we take together. And pray for me. (Lent is A LOT of writing!) And, if you find one meaningful, “like” it or comment. (That moves it up the magic Google search engine!) So, I’ll meet you in the wilderness! S…
20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. 27“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
In some Native American cultures, a vision quest is a rite of passage, a time of coming of age. In many tribes, a vision quest requires that a person spend at least four to five days secluded in nature, in the wilderness, so to speak. During that time, the person participates in what is characterized as deep spiritual communion. It is a time of transition, perhaps of “finding oneself”. It is a time of finding one’s direction, a turning toward who one is supposed to be.
We know this Scripture passage well. It is the point where Jesus metaphorically, if not literally, turns toward the Cross. It is the point where Jesus begins walking and beckons others to follow, to let go of all to which they are holding and follow. But I think I have often sort of skipped over the first two verses. What an odd interplay. Greeks, outsiders, come to worship at the festival. Now I guess you could assume that they were Jewish if they were coming to worship. But they are still not part of Jesus’ inner circle. And they head right up to Philip. The passage makes it clear that Philip, too, was on some level an “outsider”. He was from Bethsaida, the “house of fishing”, the place on the Galilean Lake where Jesus had probably called him to follow, along with some of the other disciples. And to Philip, the Greek questors make their request: “We wish to see Jesus.”
On the surface, it is a simple enough request. But when you consider that they were Greeks, accustomed to knowledge and learning, probably used to the more pragmatic way of looking at things, the notion of “seeing” Jesus is interesting. And there is no answer given. Jesus goes right into laying out what is about to happen. Maybe the idea is that wishing to see is a way of seeing, that desiring to be close to Jesus brings one closer, that one’s awakening to Jesus’ Passion is what brings one into it.
What if this season of Lent became our vision quest? What if here in the wilderness that leads to the Cross, where our plans go awry and we are at the mercy of circumstances that we cannot seem to control to our liking, we see life, we see Jesus, we see ourselves in a different way? What would it mean here, in a place to which we are unaccustomed, we were to ask to see Jesus—not just assume that Jesus is there, not just walk through Passion and Holy Week the way we always have, but to truly, in the deepest part of our being, desire to see Jesus, to know Jesus (not the Jesus that picks us up, not the Jesus who we like to call our brother or our friend or whatever word implies a close friendship, but the Jesus who has turned and walked away toward the Cross and now beckons us to follow.)? Now is the time. Now is the time for your own vision quest.
Every question in life is an invitation to live with a touch more depth, a breath more meaning. (Joan Chittister)
FOR TODAY: Go on a vision quest. Learn to see anew. Wish, in the deepest part of your being, to see Jesus—not the one that you’ve been so comfortable seeing, but the one who beckons to you to follow.
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky. The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.
We’ve talked a lot about waiting and preparation, about opening ourselves to what God holds for us. For what are we preparing though? Well, of course, for the coming of God’s Kingdom in its fullness. But what does that look like. Today’s psalter is a good depiction–steadfast, unconditional love intersecting with faithfulness, becoming faithfulness; righteousness and peace being so close that they touch, linking and embracing. The fullness is pervasive–from the ground to the sky. The land, all of creation, will finally be what it is meant to be and the way, already prepared, will be found to be paved with righteousness. So how does that fit into today’s world? In this world filled with heartache and poverty, with the recent race riots exploding throughout our nation, with the fear of war or terrorism all over the globe, and with humanity’s fear of deadly disease as it leaps the oceans’ edges, how do we see love and faithfulness, peace and righteousness. How do we see that pathway on which God can break through?
The truth is, a good part of faith includes a little imagination. It has to do with letting ourselves look beyond where we are, with learning to see things in a different light. The French Impressionist painter, Claude Monet, is probably best known for his incredible landscapes and works of nature as well as for his paintings of those things that were a normal part of his own life. But the most fascinating part of Monet’s work are those paintings that he did as part of several series representing similar or even the same subjects—his own incredible gardens, poppy fields, a woman with a parasol, and those unusual haystacks.
The paintings in this series of haystacks were painted under different light conditions at different times of day. Monet would rise before dawn, paint the first canvas for half an hour, by which time the light had changed. Then he would switch to the second canvas, and so on. The next day and for days and months afterward, he would repeat the process. In each painting, the color of the haystack is different not because it is a different haystack, but because the amount and quality of the light shining on the haystack is different. The subject is the same but the perspective from which it is viewed changes with the light. Up until this time, color was thought to be an intrinsic property of an object, such as weight or density. In other words, oranges were orange and lemons were yellow, with no variation as to the lens through which they were viewed. But with Monet’s studies in light and how it affects our view of life, that all changed. As Monet once said, “the subject is of secondary importance to me; what I want to reproduce is that which is in between the subject and me.” Monet’s study was one in seeing things differently. Beyond just painting the subject that was in front of him, he began to paint the light that illumined it.
You see, as we walk through the Advent, the light changes. The dawn is just beginning to break. Can you see it? Aren’t things beginning to look a little different? That’s the whole idea. Maybe rather than waiting for the glory of God to come, we are called to begin to see the world as it is illumined by the coming light. God is in our midst. God’s glory surrounds us. What would it mean for us to begin to imagine the world bathed in its light?
For the enlightened few, the world is always lit. (Scott Russell Sanders)
FOR TODAY: Look toward the light. See the world differently. Be light.
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Well, it’s the 2nd Sunday after Easter, so it must be Doubting Thomas Sunday! We read it every year. We read of the disciples in hiding and the return of the Risen Christ, offering them the chance to see. And part of the story is Thomas refusing to believe, refusing to accept that this really WAS Jesus. You have to wonder what the disciples were thinking locked behind the door of their house. Was their grief just so unbearable that they couldn’t do anything else? Were they afraid that they would be next? Were they disillusioned that things had turned out that way? Were they feeling remorse or guilt or shame at the parts that they had played (or not played, as the case may be) in the Passion Play? I suppose it’s possible that they were a little afraid of the rumors that Jesus HAD returned. After all, what would he say to THEM? I mean, it wasn’t like they had been stellar examples of devoted followers the last few days! But that’s not what happened. Things were going to be OK. Jesus was back. The disciples rejoiced. Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into them. They were sent. They became the community of Christ. And so I supposed they went off merrily praising God and being who they were called to be. This is a premise for discipleship. Jesus offered light and truth through his relationship with God. Now the disciples are called to offer light and truth through their relationship with Christ. All except Thomas. Poor Thomas. He wanted to see proof. Why couldn’t he just believe?
Personally, I think we give Thomas a bad wrap—after all, for some reason, he missed what the others had seen. (It is interesting that he was apparently the only one who had ventured outside! It appears the others were just hiding out.) He just wanted the same opportunity—and Jesus gave that to him. He wanted to experience it. The point was that the Resurrection is not a fact to be believed, but an experience to be shared–whatever that means for us. And perhaps, part of that experience is doubt. Constructive doubt is what forms the questions in us and leads us to search and explore our own faith understanding. It is doubt that compels us to search for greater understanding of who God is and who we are as children of God.
Hans Kung is a Swiss-born theologian and writer. He says it like this: Doubt is the shadow cast by faith. One does not always notice it, but it is always there, though concealed. At any moment it may come into action. There is no mystery of the faith which is immune to doubt. Isn’t that a wonderful thought? Doubt is the shadow cast by faith. Faith in the resurrection does not exclude doubt, but takes doubt into itself. It is a matter of being part of this wonderful community of disciples not because God told us to but because our doubts bring us together. Examining our faith involves doubts, it requires us to learn the questions to ask. And it is in the face of doubt that our faith is born. God does not call us to a blind, unexamined faith, accepting all that we see and all that we hear as unquestionable truth; God instead calls us to an illumined doubt, through which we search and journey toward a greater understanding of God.
Frederick Buechner preached a sermon on this text entitled “The Seeing Heart”. In it, he reminds us of Thomas’ other name, the “Twin”. It was never really clear why he was called that, but Buechner says that “if you want to know who the other twin is, I can tell you. I am the other twin and, unless I miss my guess, so are you.” He goes on to say this: I don’t know of any story in the Bible that is easier to imagine ourselves into that this one from John’s Gospel because it is a story about trying to believe in Jesus in a world that is as full of shadows and ambiguities and longings and doubts and glimmers of holiness as the room where the story takes place is and as you and I are inside ourselves…To see Jesus with the heart is to know that in the long run his kind of life is the only life worth living. To see him with the heart is not only to believe in him but little by little to become bearers to each other of his healing life until we become fully healed and whole and alive within ourselves. To see him with the heart is to take heart, to grow true hearts, brave hearts, at last. (“The Seeing Heart”, by Frederic Buechner, in Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons)
The truth is, doubt is a normal and expected part of faith. Our faith is not a list of checkboxes that we just check off as we believe. It is not a static list of what we should think or what we should know. There is always another question after the answer or the answer just falls flat. The questions make the answers come alive. The questions are what open our eyes to see the Risen Christ. And that sight is not some sort of pat, boiler plate type of sighting. This passage shows us that Jesus shows us what we need and that we need what Jesus shows us. It is different for everyone. So Thomas needed something a little more tactile, something he could really hold. Is that so bad? I think most of us would have to admit that that might make this whole thing a little bit easier to grasp for all of us! But maybe it’s not supposed to be easy. Maybe faith is such that the questions should never end. So what do we do when doubts seep in? Go with it. Ask more questions. Live into the doubts. Maybe the Truth is not in front of our face but just beyond the fog.
Contradictions have always existed in the soul of man. But it is only when we prefer analysis to silence that they become a constant and insoluble problem. We are not meant to resolve all contradictions but to live with them. (Thomas Merton)
Journey with your doubts and keep asking questions. Faith is not about certainty but about the journey toward meaning and Truth, a journey with God.